Amanobea is a small-business development consultant with a particular interest in female entrepreneurship. Her book on African female entrepreneurship will be published in October 2017. Until December 2016, she was the program manager for the women’s financial inclusion program of the Graça Machel Trust, represented in 17 African countries. She has worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Ghana, KPMG in Zambia, and the South African mining companies, Anglo American Corporation and Gold.
The problem identified was that SME’s, an acknowledged tool in fighting poverty, have not succeeded in adequately reducing deprivation and most of the world’s population remains poor. This led to the research question ‘how can female entrepreneurship in SME development help to reduce poverty in deprived communities?’ The study used a combined theoretical framework of the capability approach, social feminism and social entrepreneurship, with grounded theory methodology. Black South African female entrepreneurs were interviewed on their backgrounds, influences, challenges and ultimate entrepreneurial ambitions. Insights were gained on their capabilities, innate characteristics, values, and impact on the lives of others through their entrepreneurship. Based on the capability approach, coding categories were grouped under basic and advanced capabilities, personal ethos and attainment of success and fulfilment to understand how women develop as entrepreneurs and attain success and fulfilment. Development is seen to occur in stages by acquiring capabilities and forming values that guide and shape their lives and entrepreneurship. This logic inspired the design of an analytical framework that I call the female entrepreneurship development pyramid, comparable to Sonnenfeld and Kotter’s model of career development. By applying insights from categories to the logic of the framework, a theory of female entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation is developed on how female entrepreneurs may be encouraged to grow and succeed through targeted support initiatives to enhance the achievement of business and other-centric goals. The theory proposes that the other-centric focus of female entrepreneurship, that achieves wellbeing for others, be recognised as a valuable resource and harnessed for inclusion in global poverty fighting initiatives and that female entrepreneurs be recognised as hybrid social entrepreneurs. This will attract more people to the female entrepreneurship format and create a critical mass of business that strategically includes other-centric goals designed to reduce deprivation and fight poverty. The theory and framework developed could contribute to establishing new norms of female entrepreneurship, designing support interventions for women entrepreneurs, and studying the development of entrepreneurs in general, including males. Further research is recommended on how to advance the development of female entrepreneurs through capacity building. The study is limited by considering female entrepreneurs in all sectors rather than being sector-specific. The study shows that female entrepreneurship does fight poverty, and that its ability to do so is a valuable resource, which, if recognised and supported, will strengthen its impact in this regard.
Keywords: Female entrepreneurship, capabilities, deprivation, pyramid.